The lovely little town of Jackson shuts down for a month in between the ski and summer seasons. But we were in luck, and when we left, it happened to be the reopening date for the aerial tram to the top of Mount Rendezvous from nearby Teton Village. So, we went up to the top to where the snow is. Others took skis. We wore runners. It was snow/hailing most of the time we were up there, and we had to take refuge in the waffle shop, which smelt sooooo good. But we saw the really good views from the top looking over the valley and in the other direction to more mountains that were obscured by the first range.
We then headed north through parts of Grand Teton NP that we had not yet visited and saw bison for the first time. A very exciting moment for us! But 24 hours later we wouldn’t get out of the car to take a look at a few bison in the distance as we started seeing them everywhere in the forests and plains of Yellowstone.
Our first experience of Yellowstone, was a white land, four feet deep in snow. I
Frozen and starting to Thaw by the look of the blue ponds of water on the surface.
think this was about 9000 feet in altitude. We saw a large frozen lake. See the panorama above. After a while white gave way to green as we descended just a little to be below the snow line. On our first day we drove through a lot of the park but only stopped a few times as we made it to the town of West Yellowstone, Montana in time to eat and then sleep. This town exists only for the park. It has hotels, restaurants and gift shops. The park entrance is within a mile of the edge of town.
Yellowstone is proudly proclaimed as the world’s first national park. In 1872, trees, bison and bears were in plentiful supply. So, that was not the reason for its declaration. It was the geothermal features such as Old Faithful, the geyser that reliably spurts every 90 minutes or so. There are a number of regions with geothermal pools of boiling acidic ground water that possess every colour of the rainbow. These unique features set Yellowstone aside from the other forests of the continent and gave congress enough reason to protect it from private interests more than a century ago. We
We saw it on our first day in the park, then came back to see it again. They give you an estimated time of next eruption. Correct within 10 minutes. An eruption lasts about 5 mins.
saw a lot of geysers and colourful ponds by following directions on the map, but to locate the wild life you stop where the other drivers have stopped on the roads and maybe contribute to a little traffic jam. Here is our account of one such sighting that we will never forget. After a full day of sightseeing, we were nearly back at our hotel when we saw a single elk on an island in a river chewing grass. We decided not to stop. Next morning the same elk was standing on the same island, but we drove past once more. If the elk hadn’t move after a full 24 hours we would stop for a photo. So that afternoon we saw not one elk, but two on the island. The mother elk had given birth that day to her calf. Then, just a few hours old, that calf and mother had made it from the big island to a small one and were half way to the shore. We saw the rest unfold as you can see below.
I guess that Old Faithful and the geothermal features in close proximity to it are at the heart
Bison have right of way!
We wondered what the traffic jam in Yellowstone NP was for and discovered a group of 5 Bison walking towards us. They are nearly as big as a car and certainly not frightened of traffic.
of Yellowstone and that is where the huge car park and other infrastructure is. We spent a day wandering around the geysers and thermal pools. It is just a short walk to Biscuit Basin and back and you can see hundreds of different coloured pools. The reason for the colours is heat and acid loving bacteria. For example, the ones that like 70 degrees absorb iron and make red/brown colours. The ones at 50 degrees photosynthesise and make green colours. Again, this story is best told with photos so go all the way to the bottom of this post to see what we have seen.
We have been blessed with good weather in Jackson and Yellowstone. Just a few showers and never consistent rain. That was until our last day when we were driving anyhow. We have seen most of the wildlife that we hoped to see, except bears. As we left in the rain Leanne and I had appointments to reach in Bozeman. Leanne needed a haircut and I still needed to see a doctor after my illness from Mexico. I’d love to shake this and start eating normally again.
Tomorrow we fly to LA and Disney
One of many impressive waterfalls
awaits. The next stage of our trip begins with Ray and Craig, who join us for the rest of our trip.
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